THE TRUE PICTURE: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in Beijing on September 2 (RAO AIMIN)
Chinese officials underlined the need for the EU to gain a more balanced view of China—by looking not only at its progress but also at its challenges—at the recent China-EU strategic dialogue.
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton co-chaired the September 1 meeting in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province.
Despite rapid economic growth, China cannot possibly be arrogant, and is not pretending to be a richer or poorer country than it actually is, Dai said. The country has made remarkable achievements since adopting a policy of reform and opening up more than three decades ago, but it is still a developing country.
Guizhou Province, which is Dai's birthplace, remains far less developed than coastal regions in east China. Prior to the dialogue, the EU delegation visited poverty-stricken rural areas near Guiyang. The tour was designed to highlight China's stark disparities for EU officials.
The strategic dialogue aimed to enhance mutual understanding, promote political trust and advance cooperation between China and the EU, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying told Xinhua News Agency.
China hopes the dialogue will give the EU a more "balanced, truthful and objective" picture of China and its development, she said.
China has a clear understanding of its position in the international arena and of its current level of development, Dai said, adding the country will continue to focus on economic development in the future.
China needs a peaceful international environment for its own development, which will, in turn, promote global peace and development, he said. It is not interested in pursuing hegemony and will adhere to the path of peaceful development.
In addition, the two sides discussed China-EU relations, as well as global issues at their Guiyang meeting.
The meeting, held ahead of October's China-EU Summit, was the fifth strategic dialogue between China and the EU, and the first since the two sides agreed to upgrade the dialogue from vice foreign-minister level to its current one.
The previous four rounds of talks were held between vice foreign ministers of China and countries holding the EU's rotating presidency.
China supports European integration and places great importance on relations with the EU, Dai said. The two sides should continue to upgrade their relations by increasing political, as well as cultural, exchanges and appropriately addressing sensitive issues.
Ashton, who also holds the post of European Commission vice president, echoed Dai's views. While strengthening political and economic dialogues with China, the EU will seek new areas of cooperation, she said. The EU should consider China's development as an opportunity to expand trade and investment and create more jobs.
The EU highly values China's role and influence in global issues, she said. The EU hopes to enhance coordination with China in an effort to cope with global challenges.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of relations between China and the EU. Recently, rapid progress has been made in their cooperation, especially in trade ties. Since 2004, the EU has been China's biggest trade partner. In 2006, it surpassed the United States to become China's largest export market.
China's official statistics show the China-EU trade volume reached $425.58 billion in 2008, up 19.5 percent from the previous year. In 2009, it dropped to $364.1 billion under the impact of the global financial crisis. Bilateral trade quickly recovered in the first half of this year, exceeding $210 billion, up 37 percent year on year.
When meeting Ashton in Beijing on September 2, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi identified a number of promising cooperative areas, including trade, green economy and advanced technology.